UND energy researchers will receive $10 million in federal grants for two major studies for capturing carbon dioxide.

The Energy and Environmental Research Center on UND's campus was awarded an $8.8 million grant to determine the feasibility of developing a commercial-scale storage complex for carbon dioxide in central North Dakota, its congressional delegation announced Wednesday.

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The remaining $1.2 million will be used by EERC researchers to study the possibility of workers capturing carbon dioxide emissions from the Nebraska Public Power District's Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland, Neb., which is about 300 miles west of Omaha, Neb. The coal-fired facility is Nebraska's largest electricity generating plant and can produce 1,365 megawatts of power, according to the Nebraska Public Power District.

The funds come from the U.S. Department of Energy through the Carbon Storage Assurance Facility Enterprise initiative.

"These efforts not only help us to continue producing affordable energy with better environmental stewardship, but they also help create good-paying jobs in our state's energy industry," Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., said in a statement, adding the $10 million in awards come after years of work from multiple agencies, including the ERCC, "and will help to continue the advancement of commercially viable methods for reducing emissions."

North Dakota congressional delegation has advocated for coal-powered energy and the development of technology in the coal industry since lignite coal mined in north central North Dakota is one of the state's largest industries. North Dakota has the second-largest known reserves of lignite in the world behind Australia, with enough reserves to produce energy for 835 years, according to Bismarck State College's National Energy Center for Excellence. The state produces about 30 million tons of lignite each year, making it one of North Dakota's top five industries.

"Building a path forward for coal, as I've long been pushing for, requires investments into research and development of new technologies-and this federal funding for the University of North Dakota will help," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a news release. "UND researchers at the Energy and Environmental Research Center and across the university have made North Dakota a trailblazer in developing the skills and tools we need to keep coal a part of our energy mix."